Haj reaches its peak at Mount Arafat
Faithful gather for Zuhr prayer at the Namirah mosque near Mount Arafat, about 20km southeast of Makkah, on Thursday.
Arafat (Saudi Arabia) - In his sermon, the holy Prophet called on the faithful to repay their debts
By Reuters, AP
Published: Thu 31 Aug 2017, 10:24 PM
Last updated: Fri 1 Sep 2017, 12:49 AM
With their palms facing the sky in supplication, and many with tears in their eyes, around two million people from around the world gathered on Thursday in an effort to start anew, erase past sins and beg Allah for forgiveness and guidance in the peak day of the Haj pilgrimage. Two million Muslims gathered at Mount Arafat on Thursday as the annual Haj pilgrimage reached its climax.
Pilgrims clad in white robes spent the night in an encampment around the this mountain surrounded by desert, where the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) delivered his final sermon more than 1,400 years ago.
In his sermon, the holy Prophet called on the faithful to repay their debts, beware of Satan, perform five-time daily prayers, fast during the holy month of Ramadan and give charity.
He called on those with the means to perform the Haj once in a lifetime.
He reminded worshippers of the rights that women have, and said that no ethnic group or race has superiority over another except in piety and good action
Worshippers who had been praying in the nearby Mina area ascended in buses or on foot from before dawn as security forces directed traffic and helicopters hovered overhead.
"We hope that Allah will forgive our sins, and we hope to have a new start with our God," said Khaled Ahmed, a 47-year-old pilgrim from Egypt.
Men and women from nearly every country in the world gathered side by side, some crying on their neighbour's shoulder.
Awfa Nejm, from a village near Homs in Syria, said: "We ask Allah to protect Syria and its people and return it to the way it was before."
Noura Sulieman, a pilgrim from the Philippines, said she'd been to the Haj many times before and was here again to pray for her family. "I came here to Arafat to pray for my family, for my daughter, and my son, and all my family, and all the Philippines Muslims, and all Muslims in all countries," she said. "Allah willing, Allah will accept our pilgrimage." Twenty-seven-year-old Amin Mohammed from Nigeria said he was praying for peace in his country.
Saudi Arabia has said more than two million pilgrims, most of them from outside Saudi Arabia, have arrived for the five-day ritual, a religious duty once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford the journey.
By sunset they were to move to the rocky plain of Muzdalifa to gather pebbles to throw at stone columns symbolising the devil at another location called Jamarat on Friday, which marks the first day of Eid Al Adha (feast of sacrifice).
Officials said they have taken all necessary precautions this year, with more than 100,000 members of the security forces and 30,000 health workers on hand to maintain safety and provide first aid.